US House blocks RECA extension in defense bill


The US House has blocked the proposed inclusion of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Amendments of 2023 in the current National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to extend the program for another 19 years and expand its financial relief to more US communities impacted by harmful radiation exposure caused by the government and nuclear industry.  The amended radiation compensation bill  was approved by bipartisan vote in  US Senate and attached as a rider in its version of the 2023 national defense bill. Without reauthorization, RECA is presently scheduled to sunset in 2024. The Senate version of the 2023 amendment would authorize and expand financial support for radiation injuries in New Mexico, Missouri, Idaho, Montana, Guam and Colorado.

For decades, US nuclear weapons testing spread radioactive fallout while downplaying its health impacts over 46 states going back to July 16, 1945 detonation at the Trinity site in New Mexico. Similarly, many other radiation impacted US communities and US territories have been mortally sickened by irresponsible industrial practices of radioactive waste dumping and leakage into water supplies over the decades.

RECA was originally passed in 1990 to compensate Americans harmfully exposed to  US government atomic weapons testing and industrial uranium mining in Utah, Nevada and Arizona.  The Idaho Capital Sun reports, “Since the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Program began more than 20 years ago, in April 1992, more than 54,000 claims have been filed. Of those, more than 40,000 claims, or about 75%, have been approved and roughly $2.6 billion has been paid out, as of the end of 2022. Claims for ‘downwinders’ and uranium workers typically range from $50,000 to $100,000. The Department of Justice’s civil division, which oversees the program, says that, of the denials, just 16 claimants have appealed their determinations in federal district court.”

[Wikimedia photo: The first atomic bomb detonation on July 16, 1945, Los Alamos, New Mexico]

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